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Facebook is a globally known and utilized social media platform. It is a platform that allows users to share their thoughts and images, and companies to offer ads, shopping, and data acquisition. It is ultimately a tool in which people can communicate with others, business and human alike, across the world.

As a brand or business, it’s not enough for you to simply “be online”. Companies of all shapes and sizes need to be on various marketing channels and utilize them effectively.  Just like radio and television, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are now genuine marketing channels, and they require serious attention to drive real business success. Learning how to use and read metrics that are available to businesses through social media, can have a profound impact on a business’s level of success.

Who are they? Dell is a multinational computer technology company based in Texas, United States. It is known for developing, selling, repairing, and supporting computers and related products and services. It started off as a pure hardware vendor but with acquisition of Perot System in 2009, the company ventured into IT services market. Since then it has been expanding its portfolio to include not only computers but also delivering complete solutions for enterprise customers. Working for DELL The company employs more than 103,000 individuals worldwide and was listed at number 51 in Fortune 500 list of the companies until 2014. DELL operates in over 180 different countries around the world. Very few companies have the resources available to them that we have. Jeremy Burton, Chief Marketing Officer

Would you have thought for a moment that you could use an integrated social media strategy to promote local food? It is possible and the Taste of Huron (TOH) program is doing just that. Taste of Huron is a program that has been around for over 10 years. It has encountered it’s up and downs over the years, but not because of lack of interest. It is more about lack of funding and lack staff resources to dedicate to program development and administration. The program started out being managed by Huron Tourism Association (HTA) and Huron County Economic Development. Over the years the program has made some remarkable gains in the marketplace. The lack of resources and the closure of the Huron Tourism Association could have been the death of the program, but thankfully with the insight of the Huron Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) and the final board of HTA, the Taste of Huron program was not to fall through the cracks and be forgotten. “It’s not surprising that Community Futures Huron continues to invest in our local food system. It’s one of the fastest growing components of the Huron County economy, with great prospects for business and job growth”. – Paul Nichol General Manager Community Futures Huron Taste Of Huron was resurrected in 2017 through government grants and the sheer desire to make the program work. You might ask yourself why not let it end with a painless death; the simple truth is there is too much to lose. Huron County is one of the most agricultural productive counties in Ontario.  The work that has been done in the past has proven that with the proper social media tactics and a strong, event-driven, marketing plan, the brand can prosper and grow.

I don’t know about you, but I do know that I can’t tell the future of anything, let alone social media. Trust me on this one, if I could, I would be super wealthy and be way more advanced. Unfortunately that isn’t the way it is, so your best chance with knowing the future of social media is to search and investigate new products on the market. After I did a lot of searching to determine what I would write about this week, I decided to go with the company that I believe has been a pioneer in e-marketing since the beginning. Constant Contact is an email-marketing program that helps small businesses succeed and excel in the online world. Back in the day when email programs were only used to view emails from friends, the people at Constant Contact knew there could be so much more to it. Constant Contact was founded as “Roving Software” in 1995 and set up shop in Brookline, Massachusetts. Randy Parker was the brains behind this very valuable marketing tool that helps small businesses succeed against the large businesses out there.

Is social media marketing a good fit for promoting your business? Do you understand and know the benefits of being able to market your business through the use of social media marketing? A few weeks ago I spoke about the Stratford Festival on how they engaged with their customers and how they reach out through their social media. For this blog post, I’m going to stay with the theatre but on a much smaller spectrum. The Livery is a small, non-profit community theatre in Goderich, Ontario. It is operated by a Board of Directors and has one staff member. The Livery was built in 1840’s as a harness shop by Samuel Seegmuller. In 1878, there were three businesses in the building, which included a harness shop, a stable and a stone shop. When automobiles were introduced, the three businesses failed to be stainable and the Livery was left vacant for many years. In 1978 the building was being slated for demolition, but the Town of Goderich realized its historical importance and delayed the demolition schedule until private citizens could raise enough money to purchase the building. The Livery was purchased by the citizens and was known as the Goderich Arts Foundation. Many years later, in 1983, a non-profit organization called the Goderich Little Theatre purchased the theatre and opened the Livery as a community arts centre.

When you have the warmth of a beautiful day, the soft sand between your toes and the stunning shores of Lake Huron, you have the perfect location and attraction to promote tourism. There is nothing better than walking on the boardwalk in Goderich, enjoying the beauty of the marina in Bayfield, touring around local food producers purchasing fresh Ontario grown food, eating at the amazing restaurants, and enjoying all the craft breweries and wineries that are scattered around Ontario’s West Coast. The Ontario’s West Coast (OWC) tourism brand represents Huron County, along the shore of Lake Huron. The County of Huron has a population of 60,000, which soars to 800,000 in the summer months. Beautiful cottages, B&B’s, motels, hotels and campgrounds are spread throughout the shores of the West Coast. Luckily for Ontario’s West Coast they knew enough to engage in social media and add metrics to their programming and promotion of tourism many years ago. If they weren’t using social media and tracking their metrics, they would be walking blind through the process of tourism. Huron County is home to approximately 60,000 people and a visitor destination to approximately 800,000 people a year.1 SOURCE: The County Planning and Development Department, “County of Huron Annual Tourism Report” (May 2012), 4.

Whether you feel the draw of healing products or the distinct feeling of energy when encountering healing stones there is no denying that there is a market for these products. Has this product and belief exploded  in the last number of years? Has the power and feeling of stress and anxiety from a world that goes 200 kms an hour caused people to stop and explore other ways to find peace within themselves? Yes it has! Society as a whole has become so unconnected and connected since ironically, social media has taken over our lives. Mentally and spiritually people are realizing that you have to take a step back and find peace within ourselves to be able to continue on with our crazy busy lives.

The Stratford Festival in Stratford Ontario is the king of customer engagement! When you think of the people that flock to Stratford every year to see the theatre it is amazing.  Stratford Ontario has a population of 32,000 people, but in the summer that number will swell to almost a three quarters of a million people, why you ask?  The Stratford Festival of course! Tom Patterson first built the Stratford Festival in October 31,1952. Mr. Patterson saw a need to revitalize the city of Stratford after acknowledging the loss of the steam powered railway. The city of Stratford was facing a horrible ending unless something happened to keep it alive. Mr. Patterson also was an avid theatre goer who cherished Shakespearean plays. Since Stratford had the name of the birthplace of William Shakespeare, it made sense to open a Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford Ontario. The first performance of Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well took place in July 1953 and the Stratford Festival was born!

Is it really necessary in 2018 to teach your staff and colleagues to be more socially engaged in social media? The quick answer is yes it is necessary, but it can also be risky at times. Social media is one of the strongest most powerful tools we have at our fingertips. It is the way that we now do business. 20 years ago it was mostly being used as an internal tool and many didn’t dream that it would become a part of everyday life for business in general.

IBM has always stayed ahead of the game. As one of the world’s biggest technological companies, they were forecasting the rise of social media and immediately jumped on the opportunity.  Back in 2007, they foresaw how much of an impact social media was having on the world. They launched Lotus Connections, a product that combined five social networking applications into one package. Since it was aimed at the corporate social and collaborative environment, the apps focused around tools that allowed workers to communicate with each other via blogs, profiles, and common community areas. This was the start of an enterprise-wide integration and employees would have access for more information to collaborate with. IBM LotusLive has become IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. It’s used for business grade file sharing, social networking, communities, online meetings, instant messaging, email and calendar. There is also a productivity center that employees can edit documents in real time. Keeping employees involved has helped with successful organizational strategy.

Glossier originally started off as a beauty blog in 2010 by Emily Weiss called “Into the Gloss”. The blog was drawing a huge audience and created a wonderful beauty community that was generally interested in what Weiss was discussing. The launch of this community became the perfect platform for the brand launch of Glossier. The company is currently only available online which allows the brand to only focus on digital and social channels. “This online following would then rave about her products either through their own blogs, or post photos on Instagram to their own followers. This was a perfect example of word of mouth beauty marketing in action on social media (Chong, N. (2017, June)”.

Papa John’s Pizza has been using social media channels to help educate customers where products and ingredients are coming from, and creating time effective ordering options available on channels. Aside from social channels, the company has also used a collaborative technology solution to help support the efficiency of the supply chain. The company outsourced the supply chain needs to Manhattan Associates, a supply chain software company, to help create more time effective and cost saving inventory management. Eric Hartman, Senior Director of Logistics said, “Manhattan solutions allow us to manage inventory levels accurately, efficiently and more dynamically based on actual need—and that has resulted in our being able to reduce overall inventory levels (Manhattan, 2013)”. Using the collaborative software has also provided better solutions to inventory transportation. The software can optimize routes, improving on-time store deliveries, and the overall performance of their fleet (Trebilcock, B., 2014, October). Customer service relies on the speed of the supply chain to help get their products to customers in an effective way that will save time and money.  “Implementation of Manhattan’s solutions has provided unprecedented visibility along with reduced expenses, improved efficiency and productivity in every part of the supply chain (Manhattan, 2013)”. Papa John’s wants to ensure that its “fast food” moves just as quickly throughout every level of the supply chain.

Social supply Chain management is becoming more of a success tool. It seeks to incorporate social network, social interactions and social data with customers, stateholders and business owners in resulting in an improved customer service. In most supply chains, the following factors are important; Cost Quality Speed    

Ice cream is a perennial favourite dessert or sneaky late night treat for most of us. Four All Ice Cream in Kitchener, Ontario, has taken the universal appeal of ice cream to heart. When Ajoa Mintah decided to pursue her dream of starting an ice cream company, she did this with an awareness of the importance of community. Four All is committed to using locally sourced ingredients which keeps Four All inextricably connected to local farmers and producers. This sense of connectivity plays out in the categories of frozen treats that they produce because there is something for everyone: Childhood, Vegan, Foodie (creative flavours), and Classic.

Social media (as its name suggests) seems to function best for customer engagement when companies bypass the impersonal and take the customer firmly by the (digital) hand. This courting is difficult to do, yet Lay’s Canada (a PepsiCo company), a brand which largely relies on *actual* consumer consumption of their products, recognized that giving the customer agency, or the feeling of ‘a say’ in the design or production of a product is a highly effective, person-to-person way of engaging consumers, relying on them to buy Lay’s products with the subtle feeling that they have had a personal investment or stake in the brand. As a marketing tool, this kind of consumer-business enmeshment is prime territory for social media, which functions largely (and hopefully successfully) as a means of engagement. By researching a consumer’s stake in the product offering, companies like Lay’s assess which viral topics or trends are meaningful to their customers, and follow suit with an effectively-designed interactive digital campaign to increase daily or ongoing engagement with the public. And the outcome of this kind of campaign can be unprecedented.

Financial services is well known to be a conservative industry, as well it should be. It is an industry that is highly regulated, as well as having privacy restrictions that limit how they can use social media. (Wilson, 2017) It is also an industry where trust is an integral part of growing and maintaining their customer base. Sun Life Financial has been providing insurance and financial services to Canadians for generations. These services today are often provided by advisors who have a degree of independence, however, they still represent Sun Life, which is why it is important for advisors to follow the social media guidelines set out by the main corporate body of the company. Having a consistent message across the company is an important aspect of maintaining customer trust.

As one of the biggest international beauty stores, Sephora has managed to surpass retailers by increasing the number of engaged online and instore customers. After winning the 2017 The World Retail Congress’s International Retailer of the Year, the company has been able to enhance the in-store retail experience by letting customers take the in-store experience home with them. “Sephora has more than 20 million customers that shop and interact with the brand with thousands of products and 100 brand partners who bring these products to life (Forte, D. (2017)”. Now all of these customers have the ultimate online shopping experience.

Showing off your bare feet might not be the most glamorous trend on Instagram, but you might be able to argue it’s the most impactful. (Couch, 2017) One company that is performing digital engagement exceptionally well is TOMS. TOMS is based in Playa Del Rey, California. The company was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, an entrepreneur from Arlington, Texas. The company designs and sells shoes based on the Argentine alpargata design they also manufacture eyewear, coffee, apparel, and handbags. TOMS thrives on the philosophy that if they sell a pair of shoes, a new pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child. As well, when TOMS sells eyewear, part of the profit is used to save or restore eyesight for people in developing countries. The company launched TOMS Roasting Co. in 2014, and with each purchase of TOMS Roasting Co. coffee, the company works with other organizations that they refer to as “giving partners” to provide 140 liters of safe water, equal to a one week supply, to a person in need. In addition in 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was launched to help contribute to advancements in maternal health. Purchases of TOMS Bags help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help women practice safe childbirth. (Wikipedia, 2017)

TELUS Corporation, is one of world’s largest telecommunications companies that offer services to individuals, small businesses, and large corporations. As a leader in the telecommunications industry, the company employs around 39,000 people. In 2007, the company was realizing that they were suffering with employee engagement. The results of survey that participated 4,000 employees, only 58% were only engaged with the work environment (So, C., 2013, October). The lack of engagement was starting to show amongst all sectors of the company. Now today in 2017, TELUS was awarded as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and Achiever’s 50 Most Engaged Workplaces  . By modernizing their leadership philosophy, TELUS has increased engagement and remaining high level interest.

Like many multi-level marketing companies whose products are geared toward women, one of Younique’s main tenets is to build the personal confidence of their independent consultants. Younique is a cosmetics company founded in 2012 that uses social media as a main driver of sales from their independent consultants. They decided early on that instead of the traditional in-home parties, that are typical of many direct sales companies, they would hold live Facebook events where hosts and guests could virtually attend the sales party from the comfort of their own home. Younique consultants still do some in-person parties to sell their products but the virtual parties and consultants Facebook Live posts are popular ways that they have propelled their company forward in the multi-level marketing world.

This past week, I travelled to the Communitech building in Kitchener-Waterloo to interview co-founders, Jesse Lubin and Andrew Ringer, about one of Communitech’s most promising start-ups, Alaunus, currently headquartered in the Communitech Hub in the heart of the innovation district in downtown Kitchener, Ontario. Alaunus is a 3 ½ year-old startup, founded by UW computer science grad, Jesse Lubin, and Laurier BBA grad, Andrew Ringer. Alaunus has been formally involved in the Laurier Launchpad, Accelerator Centre, and Communitech’s Rev programs, and is described as an emerging leader in technology-enabled homecare solutions, and is keen to disrupt the $227.5 billion in-home health care industry. Alaunus is a next-generation practice management platform, reimagined for today’s mobile homecare Personal Service Worker (PSW) providers. Lubin, the Chief Technical Officer, has designed the technology that innovates at every step how mobile healthcare is coordinated, delivered, and managed. The proprietary software offers its (for the most part, Temp) agency client base across Ontario the abilities to operate highly efficiently, differentiate their temporary-tenured homecare PSWs (aka contingent workers), and to grow the respective agency’s customer base. Alaunus’s complete, simple, and revolutionary platform becomes the backbone of the temp agency’s back-office. Alaunus’s technology manages day-to-day client files, scheduling/rostering, and billing for the temp agency. Alaunus accurately tracks time and visit verification at the point of care, automates intelligent invoice generation and payroll, – all in one place. Patient privacy has strict compliance mandates and Alaunus adheres to them all. Alaunus is built from the ground-up with industry best-practice encryption, user management, and privacy. The official Alaunus App is “bring-your-own-device” friendly. Its platform infrastructure boasts state-of-the-art security standards, redundancy, backups, and is 100% PHIPA, HIPAA, and HITECH compliant. PSW customer feedback about its mobile app has been enthusiastic: Andrew G  I really like the phone app of Alaunus. It works very well with the desktop software. Highly recommend it.  Ben Fluter Great resource for caregivers and makes work much easier. This app makes it so much easier to get to clients, take notes, and it even states safety precautions.

Traditional marketing isn’t what it used to be.  Most people are no longer as susceptible to, or trusting of what they’re being sold.  According to a recent study, 84% of Millenials do not trust or like traditional advertising.  Yet, everywhere you look, almost any and every little available space tends to be plastered with an advertisement of some kind.   So how do you break through this resistance and connect with your target market in an authentic and lasting way?  Ipsy has found a way. Ipsy is a personalized makeup subscription service available online that sends users monthly bags filled with different and personalized cosmetic products.  Here’s more about what it is and how it started: “Michelle Phan has inspired countless women around the world through her beauty video tutorials on YouTube. Every day, the question Michelle gets asked the most is: “What are the right products for me?”  With infinite beauty product combinations in the marketplace, choosing the best items for your needs can be a challenge! That was why Michelle created ipsy. Michelle and her team of stylists have selected products they love, for you to try.  Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using.” 

You may have heard about Snapchat, the mobile app that allows users to capture videos and pictures that appear for a maximum of 10 seconds, and then it disappears. This instant messaging app created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown became increasingly popular within a few months of its launch and is now a leading platform for social media. What is more interesting is how Snapchat itself uses social media in its day-to-day functioning. The increase of social media in today’s society has led to an increase in opportunities organization-wide collaboration and sharing information, which is exactly how Snapchat has taken advantage of social media. It ‘s hard to know how businesses will use social media in the future; however, there are a few predictions about how Snapchat will possibly use social media in its next phases of evolution.

Nowadays social media marketing has become incredibly important for businesses all sizes. One reason behind marketers’ attention to social media is technology: new platforms, networks and apps. Another reason are people, who use social media to create, publish and share content. The same people are consumers, who share their thoughts about their experiences and are looking for new ones. So what does the future hold for the world of social media?